So many times I have bought lengths of beautiful trims, with the intention of adding them to something. Eventually. However, what has really slowed me down is not knowing how to add them. If I google ‘how to add trim to a whatever’, the resulting tutorials tend to assume you already have some secret-squirrel trim-attaching knowledge. Which I don’t.
So I thought that on my journey to learn this sewing technique, I would take some pictures and maybe help out some other trim-attachment hopefuls.
There are different ways of trimming a garment and this post is going to concentrate on trims that you sew directly to the outside of your project. This includes rick rack and pom poms, as well as laces, ribbons, and all sorts. There will be future tutorials to cover over way of using trims.
First off, I am going to add a ruffle trim to the bottom of a skirt. This is the same skirt pattern that I sew in my Making a skirt tutorial. Basically, we sew a length of ruffle about 2 inches above the hemline. The ends of the trim will be finished in the back seam. So it is ideal if we can sew the trim in a straight line. To do this, I draw a line across the fabric the same distance from the hem, for the entire length of skirt fabric. A good ruler and tailor’s chalk make this super easy. The hem has been pressed into place, but not yet stitched.
Next I sew the trim to the fabric. I chose not to pin it, as I was happy to manually guide the fabric along my marked line. However, you could certainly pin it if you wanted to. I chose to use a narrow zig zag to secure the trim. The sort of trim you use will dictate the stitch you you use.
Once you have finished stitching the trim, you then fold the fabric right sides together and sew the back seam, sewing also through the ends of the trim. If you were inaccurate in you line making or sewing, then you may well see a noticeable mismatch in the trim ends at the back seam. As you can see from my attempt, the ends of the trim are sitting pretty close, but not perfect. Once the skirt is gathered, this is barely noticeable.
Next I am going to talk about sewing rick rick onto projects. It took a look time for me to ‘get’ rick rack. It was this weird looking stuff that I couldn’t figure out how to use. Now, I understand it a little better.
Again, we are going to add the trim to my simple skirt pattern. You can see that I have already sewn the hem for this skirt. Again, mark a line at the level you want to sew your rick rack. I love using Clover markers for my projects. I struggled for ages with the crappy pencils that would barely mark the fabric. The clover chalk markers are really easy to use and create a mark you can actually see. And given that you are going to sew trim over the line anyways, you don’t have to worry about any lingering chalk marks.
For this tutorial I decided to use large rick rack. I haven’t used it before, and so it will be a learning opportunity for all! With small rack rack, there is enough room to sew down the centre of the trim. It can be a little fiddly at first go, but it shouldn’t take too long to get the hang of it. To see what would happen, I used this technique on the jumbo rick rack. As you can see, the ‘waves’ of the rick rack are sitting up off the fabric, and this is not the look I was going for. If you were to sew regular rick rack like this, it would sit flat without a problem.
So in order to fix the rick rack to the fabric so it lays flat, I decided to zigzag along the trim. Now, I didn’t sew with a zig zag stitch, but rather, used a straight stitch and sewed in a zigzag pattern. This means sewing a little, raising the presser foot and pivoting while the needle is in the fabric, and then sewing some more. Do this along the whole length of the rick rack.
It might be difficult to see because the thread matches so well, but in the above picture, you can see both the original straight stitch and the zigzagging stitch as well. It now sits much flatter and I am happier with this result. I have chosen not to unpick the straight stitching as; 1. too much effort, and 2. it is not overly noticeable.
What is noticeable, however is the join in the back seam. It is difficult to get rick rack to line up perfectly, and this one is close, but no cigar. Oh well.
Here is another example with rick rack. I added two rows of the stuff to this skirt. All I did was draw two placements lines instead of just one. And even though the rick rack is smaller, it was fairly straightforward to sew down the middle of each piece.
I have that this guide to trims has been helpful so far. The next trim tutorial will cover trims that you add to the bottom of a garment. Some of these are easier than others and I will be covering pompoms and lace.
Things to remember:
- Matching thread is pretty important for trims sewn onto the project (as opposed in placed in a seam).
- Think about how you will deal with the ends of the trim- burying them in a seam is a great way to do it, but think about how that join will look.
- Some trims will need something more than a single straight stitch to sew them on. Think of the zigzag used for the giant rick rack. Also, ribbons need two rows of stitching to secure.
Edit! (11th September 2017)
I just wanted to add some photos of me sewing with some sequined ribbon. It requires 2 rows of stitches to hold it in place.
First I marked a line across the bottom of the skirt. This line can represent any part of the ribbon you like, however, I used the line to mark the bottom edge of the trim.
Each edge of the trim has an area free of sequins which is where the stitches go. I stitched pretty slowly to try and get it looking as nice as possible. Getting it accurate on this first side means that it should be easier when you stitch the other side.
When I reached the end of the first row of stitches, I turned the fabric around and stitched back the other way, on the top side of the trim. Once it is done, finish sewing up the skirt. I added a decorative hem stitch just to try something different!